Don't overlook these two 19th century commentaries on the Westminster Standards!

In a previous post, we highlighted Ashbel Green's Commentary on the Westminster Shorter Catechism. Today we point out two important commentaries on the Westminster Confession of Faith, one by a Northern Presbyterian (Archibald Alexander Hodge's Commentary on the Confession of Faith) and one by a Southern Presbyterian (Francis Beattie's The Presbyterian Standards). Hodge's book is familiar to most Presbyterian students of theology and church history, but fewer are aware of Beattie's volume - which is a shame, because he interacts with all three of the Westminster Standards together, and thus his work is particularly helpful. 

As an example of Beattie's theological sensibilities, I have appreciated his comment on the relationship between the covenant of grace and the covenant of redemption in light of WLC #31:

"Sometimes the distinction is made by theologians between what is called the covenant of redemption and the covenant of grace. According to the former, God enters into covenant with his Son, giving him a people whom he redeems and assuredly saves. According to the latter, God enters into covenant with his people to redeem and save them by his Son, as the Mediator whom he has appointed. In the first case, God and the Son are the parties to the covenant, and the Son is the surety for his people; and in the latter case, God and the elect are the parties, and the Son is the Mediator between them. The Standards do not distinctly recognize this twofold aspect of the covenant. They speak of a second covenant, commonly called the covenant of grace, according to which God has been pleased to provide for and secure the salvation of the elect. This distinction may be regarded as a valid one, so long as the idea of two covenants is not entertained. Strictly speaking, there can be only one covenant, but that covenant may be viewed in the twofold aspect, which this distinction implies. The Scripture terms mediator and surety, as applied to Christ, quite justify this twofold view of the covenant of grace, though the covenant itself is always one and the same." 

Though not all will agree with this formulation, I believe all will agree that Beattie is a man who has wrestled with the Scriptures and the text of the Standards. Tolle lege!